COMPOSE YOURSELF 24 – BLACK & WHITE POST EDITING

Cee’s Compose Yourself Lesson: #24 Black and White: Post Editing


These are difficult for me to do because I don’t use the same process all the time or even most of the time. I don’t use Lightroom at all. I use a variety of filters by NIK and Topaz with Photoshop as the supporting application. How I transform photographs from color to black & white depends on the picture. There are a lot of ways to do it and they all give good results.

All of these pictures are new. It was the only way I thought I might actually remember what I did. It’s been a few hours and I’m beginning to forget. I’d better get to it!


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#1: Boats in their moorings

This is the original shot. In color, unprocessed and  uncropped, the two boats across the water are burned out.

Even so, I liked the angularity of the composition as well as the strong contrast between the water, sky, and boats. I also liked the reflection of the boats on the surface of the water.

I thought it might be interesting to translate the shot to black & white.

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A lot of processing later, I found I could not recover the detail in the burned out boats, so I decided to go in a different direction. I used Topaz Adjust to increase contrast and generally correct the exposure settings. I ran it through Topaz Clean using the “Crisp Collection using the Crisp Edge Boost” setting. This reduced detail, making the picture more geometrical. Finally, I used NIK’s Silver Efex Pro in the “Underexposed” setting  to transform it to black & white. I brightened it a bit, added a green filter to darken the water, sky and subtly increase overall contrast.


# 2: The Crop

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One of our neighbors is a farmer. He invited me to drop by and take a few pictures before harvest time. In color, the original (unedited, unprocessed) photograph is not very interesting. I thought going to monochrome might improve it.

I ran Topaz Adjust, adding contrast and detail. I tried desaturating it to black & white, but didn’t like the result. I applied Topaz Adjust then went to NIK Silver Efex Pro. I used the “017 Full Spectrum” filter in dark sepia with additional dark sepia toning and a rose filter.

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#3: The Clubhouse by Night

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This night shot of the marina clubhouse was almost monochrome anyway. I straightened it, used Topaz Adjust to sharpen, add detail, and desaturate it to monochrome. I then ran it through Topaz Clean “Cartoon Detailed” to make it a bit more “unearthly.” An easy conversion.

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#4: Leaves on the Deck

I liked this one in color, but wondered what I could do with it in monochrome. After all, it’s mostly about light and shadow with a lot of texture. The color is almost incidental.

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I used Topaz Adjust to add detail, turn down the bright and raise the contrast. Not much. Barely 5%, but that was enough. I then used the Color Saturation slider to remove the color, and the green color slider to add a bit of color back into the leaves. The result is interesting.  I like both versions.

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I used three different cameras for the pictures. Only the last one of the deck was taken with my “good” lens. The others were one of my Panasonic Lumix super-zoom cameras. I always reduce published pictures to 72 dpi because of storage considerations. I know it would be nice to see a higher definition picture, but storage is expensive.

So, there you go. I don’t know if I’ve answered the call on this challenge. I admit — I’m not a particularly disciplined photographer. It’s my hobby. When it stops being fun, I’ll stop taking pictures.

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12 thoughts on “COMPOSE YOURSELF 24 – BLACK & WHITE POST EDITING

    • Thank you, my friend. I did my best. I usually dodge this one because it takes me a whole day … sometimes longer … to respond. But I decided to do it this time. It’s sometimes good for the soul to do it, even if it isn’t easy 😉

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